NAHJ Visual Task Force hopes to create a home for Latine photojournalists

Erik Verduzco won first place with this submission at the Moneta Sleet Jr. Photo Competition at last year’s NABJ/NAHJ convention in Las Vegas.

The NAHJ Visual Task Force sees the need of Latine photojournalists representation and is determined to see an increase in the visual journalism community at the NAHJ conference.

“We’re creating a group that would have a home for visual journalists within the organization because there isn’t that much of a presence,” said Julio Cortez, staff photographer at the Associated Press. “When you look at the [conference] schedule, there’s not a lot that benefits photographers.”

Cortez said one of the reasons why photojournalists do not attend the NAHJ Conference and prefer to attend other visual journalism conferences is because there are no programs or panels designed for them.

“We want to essentially have a group that can figure out what are the needs of photojournalists who want to come to NAHJ and so the board can create a kind of programming that would be beneficial for visual journalists,” he said. 

Julio Cortez with the Associate Press is revitalizing the NAHJ visual task force hoping to bring more attention to photo and visual programming and needs in the organization.

Cortez said that even though he attends other photojournalism conferences, he is one of the few Latino photojournalists in attendance.  

“If I go to other conferences, I know I got to be there to represent, to make sure that we have a presence, but then I come here and I feel at home,” he said. “I feel comfortable, proud and I just want to be able to come here and be able to learn more.”  

Cortez also said that he wants to bring visual journalism panels and workshops to the NAHJ conference, such as those in other visual-focused conferences. 

“I go to other conferences and I’m learning different things, so I want to get that here as well, among people that I really admire so that’s why it’s really important.” 

Liz Flores, a photojournalist from the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 18 years and an NAHJ convention first-timer, said she was dissatisfied from her first conference attendance. 

“I was disappointed that there isn’t much, or anything at all, geared towards photojournalists and there are a lot of us out there,” Flores said. “There are other organizations that photographers go to with not a whole lot of Latino presence so to be able to bring that here would be incredible.” 

This is why the NAHJ Visual Task Force hosted a photo contest, in honor of Cortez’s mentor and NAHJ Hall of Famer Steven Gonzales.

Last year’s photo submission from Kathryn Styer Martinez, won second place in the NAHJ Visual Task Force, Moneta Sleet Jr. Photo Competition at the NABJ/NAHJ convention in Las Vegas.

NAHJ attendees were asked submit their best pictures following this year’s theme, “Our Beautiful Gente – how does being at #NAHJ2023 inspire you?” 

“The photo contest is mainly to just reward people trying new things,” Cortez said. “We realize that this convention is full of reporters and broadcasters who may not necessarily have a visual background, and it’s an exercise in what they’re going to do back in the newsrooms.” 

Cortez and Flores hope people will get excited about the visual element of journalism and spread the word.

“This is a perfect opportunity to bring Latinos/as/es/ photographers/videographers together and give them a platform to learn,” he said.

Glendalys Valdes attended the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, and graduated with a major in Journalism and Public Relations and a double minor in Economics and International studies. Glendalys gravitates toward writing about immigration policies, reform and politics and hopes to put a spotlight on underrepresented communities. Reach her at glendalysvaldes123 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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